Exploring Pre-service Physical Sciences teachers’ experiences and perceptions of learner-learner talkin the classroom

Date
2020
Authors
Radebe, Nomfundo Knowledge
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Abstract
Perceptions are our own individual conceptual frameworks that we construct from experiences and use to predict and understand phenomenon (Norman, 2014). Therefore, experiences and perceptions are worth studying as they enable us to understand individuals’ conceptions of phenomenon such as learner-learner talk, a social interaction with a potential to mediate learning according to Vygotsky (1978) sociocultural theory of learning. Hence, the purpose of this study was to investigate pre-service Physical Sciences teachers’ experiences and perceptions of the value of learners talking to their fellow learners in the classroom. To address the purpose of this study, a qualitative research approach with a case study design of four pre-service Physical Sciences teachers implicitly tutored in learner-learner talk was used drawing on the sociocultural theory of learning as a theoretical framework. Data was collected through individual interviews with these teachers before teaching experience regarding their talk with peers in lectures, tutorial and practical sessions. These teachers were followed to teaching experience where observations were carried out which included audio-recording their talk with learners as well as the talk between their learners. With each lesson observed, post lesson interviews were conducted with the teachers. The data from interviews, post lesson interviews and observations was analysed using categories. The data from audio-recording pre-service Physical Sciences teachers talk and their learners talk was transcribed and analysed using Scott (2008) and Mortimer & Scott (2003) communicative approaches and Mercer’s (2008) three types of talk respectively. The study found that these teachers had a positive experience of learner-learner talk during lectures, tutorial and practical sessions and thus perceive it to be effective in promoting learning and worth encouraging in the classroom. During teaching experience, these teachers extended their positive experience to the learners they were teaching using mostly the interactive/authoritative communicative approach, which is considered to be of low quality. The implicit tutoring of the pre-service Physical Sciences teachers about learner-learner talk may have been the cause of these teachers being unable to largely employ communicative approaches of high quality. As such, the findings point to the need to explicitly teach pre-service Physical Sciences teachers on how to facilitate learner-learner talk in the classroom. This skill will be translated to the learners they will teach resulting in these learners engaging in high quality talk which, in turn, will improve their understanding of the content taught in Physical Sciences
Description
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Education, 2020
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